Storytime and Difficult Topics

I was scrolling through Twitter, as is often my custom when I need a good guttural belly laugh, and I stumbled on the following post: ICE Raids planned for the weekend, Sunday, June 23, 2019. I quietly put my phone down and made an inventory of what I could do at that moment. It is one of the things I still struggle with to this day. I had to remain calm. My whole family’s history is predicated on the crossing of borders and what we carry with us isn’t something I take lightly. 

I woke up the next day with a subdued panic that would carry me throughout most of the weekend. My mother always reminds me that I have nothing to worry about, and, perhaps legally, I don’t. But my body is imbued with worry and concern for all the children, parents, elderly, uncles, aunts and single people it affects. I worry for all my past students whose parents would ask for over-the-phone parent-teacher conferences in fear of public institutions and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Separation and deportation is an ugly tactic. There are many tragic stories of people that are deported without a due process who are never able to see each other again. It’s then that I think of what stories we need to tell; joyous moments we must hold onto tightly, and never let go of.

As a librarian that will be taking stories out in the neighborhoods this coming fall in a mobile storytime of sorts, I would like to tell stories that include not only Peppa Pig, Daniel the Tiger, Olivia, Piggie and Elephant, but also I’d like to take stories of all the brave little girls and boys who experience separation/deportation/immigration and make it out in one piece. Who laugh and live because it is so clearly possible. I want to tell the stories that make them feel visible and heard.

Some parents might worry that kids will be afraid of such stories. I would suggest that it’s exactly these stories that they must hear now to help them cope with the injustices of our world. We shall not keep quiet to comfort the masses. If books have taught me one thing, it is that stories have a way of growing into one’s heart. I hope that books like Mama's Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat creates a path for the heart to grow tender and strong. If there are people in your life that need these stories, take a look at Centi’s curated list and know that as you read with your child, the heart grows tender and strong. 

LPL Kid Picks: Internment, Detainment, and Immigration in the USA

If you want to take it a step further and learn a little more about the ICE separation crisis go here

-Vanessa Reynaga is a Youth Services Outreach Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.